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The cycle of human evolution started taking giant leaps post the discovery of fire. Post the discovery of fire, the Neanderthals experimented by heating clay forms. This heating of clay resulted in changing the molecular structure of clay forming a type of clay that would soon revolutionize the way human race would survive and evolve wholesale custom ceramic vase This early material was later on termed as ‘Ceramic’ borrowing its name from the Greek word ‘keramikos’.

Scientifically, ceramics are inorganic and non-metallic solids. These materials are prepared by heating and subsequent cooling of basic inorganic and non-metallic materials. The heating and cooling action imparts the desired mechanical properties to the ceramics. A series of permutations and combinations are possible for heating temperatures and cooling timings. These combinations impart varying levels of hardness, ductility, strength, malleability, etc. to the ceramics.

The science of ceramics has evolved and established its significance to the modern engineering industry. Due to the ability to have high melting points, low conductivity of thermal and electrical charges, resistance to chemical reactions, etc. Ceramics are preferred and developed for complex applications. Their light weight and ease of use make them an ideal choice for both high end and low end Industrial applications.

The Industrial ceramics are made with precisions. The expected product can be modelled and based on the outcome, the ingredients of the ceramics are determined. The chemicals, materials, temperatures and cooling time of the material are pre-set and modelled as per the outcomes. Furthermore, the ceramics can be moulded into any desired shape and form adding to is usability quotient for industries.

Ceramics have transcended their usefulness to human race from earthen pots to modern aerospace applications. From the field of electronics to avionics and mechanical to electrical conduits, ceramics are widely used and preferred in Industrial applications. The semiconductor industry for example, benefits greatly from the low electrical conductivity of ceramics. Modern ICs are expected to be faster and smaller at the same time. This puts immense pressure on the material and Industrial ceramics stand the test of time for such unique applications. Ceramic manufacturing standards are established by the industry to ensure that desired outputs are modelled as per standard requirements.

Engineering ceramics are preferred for mas and batch production in industries. The non-corrosion and non-reaction ability of ceramics make them an ideal candidate for castings. The liquid metals can be poured in the castings made of ceramics without the vessels reacting with the poured element. Also, due to low thermal conductivity coefficient, the ceramic containers are easier to handle and manoeuvre in industry.

Due to their light weight, the ceramics are finding huge applications in aviation industry. Also, due to the smooth surface finishes that they can bear without hampering the inherence qualities expected from the material, Automobile industry uses Industrial ceramics to great extent. In manufacturing industry, ceramic tiles are used as fire brick lining materials in boilers. The tiles are designed and prepared in such a way that they can withstand temperatures in excess of 18000C. Due to the non-thermal conductivity, the ceramic materials become an obvious choice for furnaces.

Gauging the importance the science of ceramics are assuming in the modern engineering context, Universities are incorporating special courses on advanced ceramics and industrial ceramics. The more researchers are learning about the science of ceramics, the more possibilities are emerging for its potentials for human kind. Whether they are the complex problems of space materials to the intriguing material issues while working beneath the crust of the earth, the answers rests in the usage of ceramics. The next phase of evolution is just unfolding and the possibilities are endless.

That made me think about ceramics. What will be the future of our beloved ceramics in 50 years from now? Perhaps it will be self-cleaning plates and Lego style brick houses? Again these may seem far-fetched to most but they are already possible in a small way.

Without doubt ceramics will be recycled in a more comprehensive and systematic way. Recycling points will be readily available in every part of the country. Ceramics will be reprocessed by bar-code or other tracer systems which will allow them to be separated for more economic recycling or re-use.

The changes in pottery fashion are more rapid now than at any other time. This trend is likely to continue. Changes to our dining habits, less formal dining and more casual dining, is reflected in the ceramics we buy. Ceramics are now mostly considered a disposable item and need to fit more closely with our lifestyles. This has led to a wider choice of colour and shape. For example a whole range of ware may be used for dining instead of a single dinner plate.

The future however is likely to bring us even more personalisation in design. Designs will be agreed at the point of sale or online and products will leave the factory 24 hours later. Scope for designing your own tableware is not far away now and will be common place in the future. Personalisation is already available in a small way but this will grow exponentially as technology progresses.

Ceramics will become lighter and stronger! Lightweight ceramics have already been developed for military purposes but ultimately these ceramics will become part of the pottery scene. The advantages of light weight and strength are significant not only to the carbon footprint but also to manufacturing and transport costs.

A good example of ultra thin ceramics is Eggshell porcelain, a delicate porcelain often decorated with a watermark-like image dating back to the Ming dynasty (1402-1424). Nevertheless because of lack of strength it has not found widespread use for dinnerware. Future ultra thin ceramics will have sufficient strength to make them suitable for a wide range of ceramics.

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